Expanding Learning Spaces at Waukegan Public Library: Renovation Project to Begin on January 10

Post date: Monday, December 29, 2014 - 5:18pm

Starting in January, the Waukegan Public Library will undergo a major transformation of its main floor to accommodate the changing and growing needs of the community. Ensuring that the environment of the library is focused on learning and discovery, the redesign includes six new classrooms and collaborative study spaces, engaging and educational exhibits, upgrades in technology, better seating and lighting, and a large media wall.

In an effort to reflect the changing role of the library from information warehouse to educational institution, the new spaces will further define the library as a Learning Center for the community. It will include functional, dynamic, innovative, and engaging spaces that will help community members on their individual paths to success. The redesign is another step in moving the library’s new vision forward and increasing literacy rates by 25% by the year 2020.

For the last 30 years, the Waukegan Public Library has maintained literacy programs for adults and families with the help of partner organizations like the Literacy Volunteers of Lake County, Waukegan Public School District 60, and outside funding sources. However, for the last few years, current library classroom spaces and collection materials are no longer adequate or able to meet the demands of a growing population of native and non-native speakers in need of free resources and services.

In the past, we had to have had to be very creative in finding learning spaces for groups. Our classrooms are full every night of the week and our classes have long lists of students waiting for an opening. With two new classrooms and four collaborative study spaces on the main floor, we will be able to serve more members of the community as they learn, grow and transform,” said Gale Graves, Education and Literacy Services Manager.

While the books won’t disappear, community members will notice a larger focus on teaching basic functional and cultural literacy, in essence, knowledge as fundamental as when to go to the doctor, how to read street signs, or even how to print a form from a website. “Libraries are not just about books, they are about reading, resources, and access to information,” said Richard Lee, Waukegan Public Library Executive Director. “At the library, we are committed to creating a community of readers from cradle to career. When our residents are successful, our city will be successful.”

The Waukegan Public Library continues to play a vital role in the lives of community members and it is hoped that the new main floor will reflect the increasing need for flexible, functional spaces that meet the needs of a changing population. The project is funded by state grants and general operating funds saved over the last few years. The library will be open normal hours during construction except for the week of January 10-18. The project is expected to be completed by June of 2015.

Waukegan Public Library Plans Dec. 30 LifeSource Blood Drive

Post date: Monday, December 22, 2014 - 4:46pm

While everyone is making their plans for New Year’s Eve, the Waukegan Public Library is hoping that area residents will finish the year with a good deed by donating blood from 10:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. in the Bradbury Room at its library at 128 North County Street, Waukegan.

The blood drive is sponsored by LifeSource, Illinois’ largest blood center.

For Waukegan Public Library Director Richard Lee, it’s personal.

“Here’s one way that you can really help support a life,” says Lee, who has been an active blood donor since 1988.  The library director estimates that he’s donated approximately 8.375 gallons of blood over his career.

“I say to our local residents, ‘Here’s one way that you can really support a life this holiday season,’” Lee relates of the Dec. 30 drive. “So why not stop by the library over your lunch hour and donate?”

The timing of this Waukegan Public Library drive is essential:  blood donations dip during the holiday season as routine donors take extended vacations and travel, so more public drives are needed to maintain local blood inventory.

The good deeds of Waukegan Public Library patrons on Dec. 30 mean that blood will be readily available at Chicagoland hospitals during the New Year’s holiday.  

Appointments for the blood drive are preferred, but all walk-ins are welcome. Donors can schedule their appointment by calling LifeSource at (877) 543-3768 or visiting and using the code WK28.  

Blood donors must be at least 17 years old (or 16 years old with parental consent).  

Along with hosting daily blood drives, LifeSource operates 19 community donor centers and 4 fixed sites with regular operating days and hours. In preparation for their donation, donors are asked to eat well, stay hydrated and arrive with proper identification.


Established in 1987 and a business unit of The Institute for Transfusion Medicine, LifeSource is a not-for-profit organization and the largest blood center in Illinois. LifeSource provides blood products and transfusion-related services to hospitals in the Chicagoland area. Blood donors must be 17 years old, or 16 with signed parental consent, and should prepare by eating a meal or healthy snack and properly hydrating. Donors must bring photo identification when they donate. For more information, go to or visit our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram @LifeSourceOrg.


Blood Donors must be at least 17-years-old (16 with written parental consent), weigh at least 110 pounds and be in general good health. Most medications are accepted. The donation process takes about an hour and is both safe and comfortable. Proper ID is required to donate blood. A LifeSource or military ID, driver’s license or employee badge with picture and full name are all approved forms of ID. A birth certificate along with a picture ID that includes the donor’s full name will also be accepted.

Bring Ray Home

Post date: Wednesday, November 19, 2014 - 6:56pm

Committee seeks input on best way to memorialize famous author

One of Waukegan’s most famous authors will come home again soon.

A Waukegan group is now seeking unique sculptural ideas on how best to honor Ray Bradbury, one of the most celebrated authors of the 20th century.

Bradbury lived in Waukegan until he was 13. Even after moving to California, he fondly remembered his childhood in Waukegan, poring over books in the stacks of the Carnegie Library, watching movies at the Genesee Theatre, and walking home through the ravine. Many of his writings take place or mention Waukegan, including the 1957 “Dandelion Wine”, “Something Wicked This Way Comes” in 1962, and his last novel in 2006, “Farewell Summer”. He died in 2012 at the age of 91.

“Bradbury should hold a place of honor in Waukegan because this is where he grew up and his passion for learning is an inspiration to the community,” said Richard Lee, Executive Director of the Waukegan Public Library and chair of the Ray Bradbury Statue Committee.

About ten years ago, Waukegan memorialized another famous son of Waukegan, Jack Benny, with a life-sized statue of his likeness, but Lee says that the Bradbury sculpture could be anything from a typewriter to a firefighter.

“We are looking for a way to make Bradbury live forever, like his character Mr. Electrico in “Something Wicked This Way Comes”. We want to honor him in a big way,” said Lee.

The committee is still considering various sites around Waukegan’s downtown area and the chosen sculpture may influence the final location.

Bradbury supported the Waukegan Public Library throughout his entire career. He sponsored the Library’s Creative Contest for 30 years, personally hand-signing the winner certificates each year. And, in 2005, Bradbury permitted the library to use his name and present an annual Ray Bradbury Storytelling Festival around Halloween, his favorite time of year. And last January, the Library was named one of three beneficiaries of his personal estate.

Sculpture ideas may be sent by mail or email to Richard Lee at the Waukegan Public Library, 128 North County Street, Waukegan, IL, 60085 or richardlee [at] waukeganpl [dot] info. For more information or if you are interested in contributing to the project, contact Lee at (847) 623-2041, ext. 250. It is intended that the statue will be fully funded by charitable donations and sponsors. All donations are tax deductible.

The committee meets every fourth Wednesday of the month at 4 p.m. in the Waukegan Public Library board room at 128 North County Street.